2007-2009 Catalog
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Master's Degree Requirements

Professor with students in lab

University Writing Requirement | Study Plan
Advisers and Committees | Advancement to Candidacy
Completion of Requirements and Award of Degree
Graduate Academic Standards

Students working toward a master's degree are required to demonstrate writing ability commensurate with the baccalaureate degree. This requirement should be met within the first nine units of graduate work by successfully completing one of the following:

  1. An upper-division writing requirement at any CSU campus.
  2. An upper-division course at another university equivalent to a course that meets the Cal State Fullerton requirement. Such equivalence must be certified by the department or program responsible for the student's academic work.
  3. Cal State Fullerton Examination in Writing Proficiency.
  4. Upper-division or graduate-level course(s) certified as meeting the writing requirement and approved by the department or program responsible for the student's academic work. The grade received must be a "C" (2.0) or better.
  5. A minimum score of 4 on the Graduate Record Exam (GRE) Writing Assessment Test.
  6. A minimum score of 4 on the Graduate Management Admissions test (GMAT) Analytical Writing Assessment.

Any student who has not met the requirement within the first nine units of graduate work will be required to enroll in a university-approved writing course at the earliest opportunity. Departments and programs may, at their discretion and with approval of the Graduate Education Committee, establish additional writing requirements for their graduate students. For further information, students should consult their departmental graduate program adviser.

General requirements for all master's degree study plans include the following:

  1. A minimum of 30 approved semester units. Some programs require more.
  2. At least 21 semester units must be taken in residence. For programs requiring 42 or more units, at least half the units must be taken in residence. Transfer credits and Cal State Fullerton extension credits are not residence units.
  3. Only 400- or 500-level courses may be used on graduate Study Plans. A graduate student enrolled in a 400-level course will be required to complete additional assignments as determined by the instructor. University policy does not allow 300-level courses on graduate study plans.
  4. Normally 70 percent of all study plan courses will be at the 500-level. However, with prior approval, upon the recommendation of the Graduate Education Committee, programs may permit students to include up to 50 percent of course work at the 400-level.
  5. No more than nine units of postbaccalaureate work taken at Cal State Fullerton prior to admission to classified standing.
  6. No more than six semester units for a thesis, if a thesis is required.
  7. Maximum of six units of independent study.
  8. No courses taken to satisfy prerequisite requirements.
  9. None of the following: correspondence courses, credit by examination, or similar.
  10. No courses with nontraditional grades (e.g., CR, S, P).
  11. Each course on the study plan must be completed with a grade of "C" (2.0) or better.
  12. A minimum grade-point average of 3.0 ("B") in all courses attempted to satisfy requirements for the degree.
  13. Completion of all study plan courses within five years or seven years with approved extension. The time limit starts with the earliest course on the study plan.
  14. All courses taken after the baccalaureate (or postbaccalaureate credit granted).
  15. No courses credited toward another degree.
  16. A final evaluation, which may be a thesis, a project, a comprehensive examination, or any combination of these.

The approved study plan is valid as long as the student maintains continuous enrollment in regular semesters at the university; otherwise it is necessary to reapply and meet any changed or additional requirements approved in the interim.

Culminating Experience Guidelines
Each master's program includes a final evaluation (culminating experience) that marks the end of the graduate program. A thesis, a project, a comprehensive examination, or any combination of these is required of all students. An oral presentation is strongly encouraged.

Through culminating experiences, individual students demonstrate mastery of disciplinary materials. Because these demonstrations of mastery are specific to individual students, theses, projects, performances, exhibitions, and comprehensive examinations shall be composed of individual student work, unless more than one culminating experience is required in the program.

Individual student work shall include exhibitions in which individual work is clearly identified but displayed alongside the work of others. Individual student work shall also include accompanied artistic performances, or performances rendered in ensemble, in which individual student performances are clearly identifiable. In programs that require more than one culminating experience, at least one culminating experience must be based on individual student work.

Students whose programs require a culminating experience that is undertaken in groups (e.g., for the M.B.A.) shall receive an individual assessment based on a component of the work identifiable as authored or created by each individual student.

Election of Curriculum
A student remaining in continuous attendance in regular semesters and continuing in the same curriculum may elect to meet the degree requirements in effect either at the time of entering the curriculum or at the time of completion of degree requirements, except that substitution for discontinued courses may be approved by the graduate program adviser.

Changes in Study Plan
If a classified graduate student needs to make a change in the approved study plan, a request should be made to the student's departmental graduate program adviser. Requests must be made prior to registration for any course work to be substituted or added. No course may be removed from the study plan after a student has taken it. Forms which may be used to file a request for change in study plan are available from graduate program advisers, in the Graduate Studies Office, or on the Graduate Studies website.

Changes in study plan may also be required because of outdated course work or grade-point average deficiencies (see "Time Limit for Completion" and "Graduate Academic Standards").

Time Limit for Completion
All requirements for the master's degree, including all course work on the student's study plan, normally should be completed within five years. This time limit begins with the semester of the earliest course used on the student's study plan and consists of a total of ten (10) consecutive semesters. When individual circumstances warrant, this time limit may be extended for up to two years (four additional consecutive semesters).

A student may request an extension of the five-year time limit by filing a petition with the Graduate Studies Office. The petition must contain a full explanation of the circumstances that prevented completion of the degree requirements within the normal five-year limit and must be approved (signed) by the graduate program adviser, the chair of the appropriate graduate committee and the director of Graduate Studies. Approvals for extension must be obtained prior to the expiration of the five-year limit.

Outdated Courses
Outdated course work (course work older than the student’s approved time limit; i.e., five or seven years) should be repeated. However, a maximum of nine (9) units of course work may be exempt from repetition if course content can be validated. Validation is allowed at the discretion of the graduate program adviser, the academic unit offering the subject course, and the associate vice president, Academic Programs. Copies of the “Petition for Validating Outdated Course Work” may be obtained from the Graduate Studies Office or website.

Validation must be accomplished by passing a written comprehensive test of the materials covered by the course being validated or by some equivalent method with prior approval of both the graduate program adviser and the associate vice president, Academic Programs. Any outdated course work that cannot be validated either because of a denial of the petition or because it is in excess of the nine units allowed for validation, must be repeated or updated through enrollment in additional Study Plan course work. If course work is repeated or additional course work is required to update, those units and grades will be added to the Study Plan.

Outdated transfer course work cannot be validated.

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University policy provides that each student's program for the master's degree shall be under the guidance of an adviser and for some programs, a committee as well. A graduate program adviser is designated in each department or program to give overall supervision for the graduate program. In some departments, the graduate program adviser also serves as the individual student's adviser. Policies and procedures related to graduate committees are available in the Graduate Studies Office.

It is the responsibility of the student to arrange appointments for advisement and other information in the office of the academic unit offering the degree program. As a minimum, the student should obtain advisement (1) either prior to or during the first semester of attendance, (2) when requesting classified standing, and (3) when applying for a graduation check prior to the final semester.

It is advisable for the student to maintain a personal file of transcripts and other evidences of grades and achievements, and to have these documents available whenever seeking advisement.

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A student who has been granted classified standing is advanced to candidacy after a request is filed for graduation by the student and an affirmative recommendation is made by the graduate program adviser. An overall minimum grade-point average of 3.0 (B) and a minimum grade-point average of 3.0 for all study plan course work is required. Other scholastic, professional and personal standards, the passing of examinations, and other qualifications, may be required.

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All course work for the degree, except final course examinations, should be submitted by the last day of classes, in order to assure granting of the degree by the end of the semester or session. The degree is awarded upon the satisfactory completion of all state and university requirements, as well as the specific requirements approved on the student's graduate study plan. Award of the degree also requires the recommendation of the appropriate graduate program adviser and committee (advancement to candidacy), the approval of the faculty, and approval of the associate vice president, Academic Programs (or designee).

If a thesis is required, it must be deposited in the campus bookstore according to instructions shown under "Theses and Projects," no later than the last day of final examinations for the semester or session in which the degree is to be awarded.

Applying for Graduation
Students must file an application for a graduation check and pay the $115.00 graduation and diploma fee prior to the beginning of the final semester.

The last date to file the application is listed in the front inside cover of the Class Schedule for each regular semester and is posted on the Graduate Studies website. Candidates for summer (August) graduation must file their requests prior to registration for the spring semester. Students completing requirements during the summer must also obtain departmental approval prior to the summer term by filing a Petition for Summer Completion. The form is available in the Graduate Studies Office. The approved form must be returned to Graduate Studies during the spring semester.

Students who fail to complete requirements as planned must update the application for a graduation check and do so by the appropriate deadline. A fee of $10.00 is required to change the graduation date. Forms for applying for graduation and changing the graduation date are available at the Admissions and Records Service Center and the Graduate Studies Office.

Graduation and Commencement
The effective date of graduation will be the last day of the specific term in which requirements are completed.

Commencement ceremonies are held only at the end of the spring semester. Students completing requirements at the end of the fall and spring semesters and during the following summer may participate in those ceremonies.

Information concerning commencement activities is sent to students by college dean's offices usually in April of each year. Arrangements for cap, gown and hood rental are made in the campus bookstore, Titan Shops.

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Grade-Point Average Requirements
A grade-point average (grade points divided by units attempted) of at least 3.0 is required for graduation with a master's degree. This grade-point average applies to (1) all 400- and 500-level units attempted subsequent to admission to a degree program and (2) all units required on the student's graduate study plan including transfer courses. Each course on the study plan must be completed with a grade of "C" (2.0) or better.

A degree student may request a change in study plan in order to raise the study plan grade-point average by:

  1. Adding no more than six units of approved course work, or
  2. Repeating no more than six units of course work in which a "C" (2.0) or lower was earned, or
  3. A combination of 1. and 2. not to exceed six units.

Requests to add courses to the study plan, repeat courses, or add courses to raise the overall grade-point average, must be approved by the graduate program adviser and the associate vice president, Academic Programs (or designee) prior to registration. When a course is added or repeated, the original course remains on the study plan and on the student's transcript and both grades are used in calculating the student's grade-point average.

A grade-point average of at least 2.5 is required for continuing status as a credential, certificate or undeclared postbaccalaureate student.

Repeated Courses
If a grade less than “C” (2.0) is received in a Study Plan course, the course must be repeated and passed with a grade of “C” (2.0) or better. A course may be repeated only once. If a course is repeated, both grades are included when computing the student’s Study Plan and cumulative Cal State Fullerton grade-point average. Repetition of a course carries no additional unit credit toward the degree; however, the additional units are included in the cumulative units shown on the Cal State Fullerton transcript.

In extenuating circumstances, the student may petition the associate vice president, Academic Programs (or designee) to add another course to the approved program with the unit value equivalent to that of the course in which the unsatisfactory grade was received.

Successful repetition of a course originally passed carries no additional unit credit toward a degree.

A graduate student enrolled in a graduate degree program will be placed on academic probation if either the cumulative or the Study Plan grade-point average falls below 3.0. A graduate student may also be placed on probation for reasons other than cumulative and/or Study Plan grade-point average. This is known as administrative-academic probation. The reasons for this may include repeated withdrawal, failure to progress toward an educational objective, non-compliance with an academic requirement, failure to demonstrate a level of professional competence or fitness commensurate with the standards of the student’s discipline, or inappropriate behavior as defined in the Student Bill of Rights and Responsibilities, and in the Academic Dishonesty sections of this catalog (see “University Regulations”).

Graduate degree students will be allowed two semesters on academic probation before being subject to disqualification. Students will remain on administrative-academic probation contingent upon conditions required for their continuing in the program. The Graduate Studies Office maintains a list of students on probation and subject to disqualification.

The associate vice president, Academic Programs (or designee), in consultation with the student’s graduate program adviser, will disqualify a graduate student who is on probation if the student does not, or cannot, raise the Study Plan and cumulative grade-point average to 3.0 by the completion of the second regular semester following the semester in which the grade-point average fell below the minimum 3.0 standard.

If a student’s grade-point average becomes so low that it cannot be raised to 3.0 within the prescribed limits of course work, the student will be disqualified from the master’s degree program.

Students placed on probation for reasons other than grade-point average will be disqualified if:

  1. The conditions for removal of administrative-academic probation are not met within the period specified.
  2. The student becomes subject to academic probation while on administrative-academic probation.
  3. The student is removed from administrative-academic probation and subsequently becomes subject to administrative-academic probation for the same or similar reasons as originally placed on probation.

Disqualification removes a student from graduate standing and prevents further enrollment in university courses (except through University Extended Education). A student who has been disqualified from a master’s degree program may not apply for readmission to that program. However, a student who has been disqualified from one degree program may apply for readmission to a different degree program. A readmitted student must file a new Study Plan that meets current requirements and policies. Any disqualified student who wishes to use previous course work must have it approved by the associate vice president, Academic Programs (or designee).

Appeals related to graduate degree probation or disqualification should first be directed to the departmental graduate program adviser. Please contact the Graduate Studies Office for further information and procedures.

Probation and Disqualification for Credential, Unclassified or Undeclared Postbaccalaureate Students
A postbaccalaureate student (credential, unclassified or undeclared status) will be subject to academic probation if after completing 12 or more units, the cumulative grade-point average falls below a 2.5 average.

A postbaccalaureate student (i.e., credential or certificate objective) on probation will be subject to disqualification if the cumulative grade-point average is not raised to 2.5 the semester after being placed on probation.

Appeals related to postbaccalaureate (credential or unclassified) probation or disqualification are submitted on a reinstatement form available in the Graduate studies office.

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